Picture of Water Table, for the Kids
I decided to make a fun water table for my son’s first birthday. He loves water in the sink and the bathtub so instead of getting a boring old tiny pool, I went this route. I wanted fountains and sprayers and a self contained reservoir and pump so it wouldn’t need to be attached to the hose. I got all the goods at a local home-improvement store and got it together in about 2 hours.
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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
Materials needed:
a plastic storage bin with a cool lid (I got a couple of these in a two-pack)
a 330 gph statuary pump (in the garden pond section)
3/4” x 5’ polyethylene plastic water pipe (the price tag said “3/4” x5’ NSF PE 160PSI STICK (PEP)”)
3/4” insert plug (in the same section as the pipe above)
3/4” 90D elbow insert
3/4” tee insert
3/4” ID vinyl tube (I got a 10’ piece)

and a few simple tools:
a hand saw
a power drill
various drill bits, one a bit bigger than the outer diameter of the pipe and a few smaller ones
a utility knife (or something else to cut the vinyl tubing)

Step 2: Drill some drainage holes

Picture of Drill some drainage holes

Start by drilling drainage holes on the lid of the bin so that any water squirted out of the fountains will not pool on top but drain back into the reservoir. On this cool lid, I put about a 3/8” hole at every intersection of the molded texture, which happens to be the lowest point on the lid.

Step 3: Plumbing Structure

Picture of Plumbing Structure

Next cut some 2” lengths of black pipe with your hand saw (or a power miter box saw) and assemble the three tee inserts and four 90D elbow inserts into the main plumbing structure.

I found that it took a bit of force to get the pipe onto the inserts. What helped was soaking the black pipe pieces in really hot water for 30 seconds right before putting them on the inserts. It helps to have a plan of action and a big bowl of hot water.
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sdebono2 months ago

awesome, but I wonder how safe it is if something goes worong with the pump. Would a Ground Fault Interrupter be enough to ensure safety ? Thanks

idryo made it!8 months ago

I made one for my 11 month old. He loves it!

phinch2 years ago
Thanks for the inspiration. I built a similar table for my almost two year old using yours as a guide.
I added a shallower tub to the top with a standpipe so that the she could splash in a few inches of water. The fountain pump feeds a slip fit pvc pipe fitting, so she (or I) can reconfigure the fountain.

today we added dish soap, that was fun.
phinch phinch8 months ago

I made a bigger, lower version..

theerikjohnson (author)  phinch2 years ago
Great. I like your modifications. Did the soap affect the pump's performance at all?
i didn't notice any difference. It's a good idea to fill the reservoir with as much water as it will hold, because the foam will eat up a lot of the water. my pump almost ran dry. I wasn't too worried, because I've accidentally ran my pump for days at a time dry when it used to be a garden pump.

Today, I added an umbrella for shade.
USS Sandhu10 months ago

I'd love to make this for my 1 year old son. Can anyone tell me what the minimum GPH should be on the pump? Would something like this suffice?:



phinch USS Sandhu8 months ago

I used a 260 GPH pump for mine. the one you linked should work fine.

USS Sandhu made it!8 months ago

What a super easy and fun project. Thanks much for posting this... my little guy loved it!

TONY36969 months ago
Forgot to add the pictures...
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TONY36969 months ago
I set mine up so they could wash their trucks, grab a drink, and fill up squirt guns. I also used Pex tubing, being an HVAC tech has its advantages!! I plan on changing it as they grow to accommodate new activities.
bradherman10 months ago
Just finished building ours. I used a heat gun (paint aisle) to heat up the black pipe. This worked so well, It made it like the attaching the joints like butter. All it takes is 15 seconds with the gun on high, you don't want to melt the pipe just make it very warm. I still need to add 2 end caps and extra play features but for now it's working great. I'm still going to add a laminar flow fountain to one of the up tubes. The build time was right around two hours, and this guide was fantastic.
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FirstSpear10 months ago

Brilliant idea. Kids do get bored with paddling pools and the like, and just end up pouring buckets of water on the grass\dog\plants\sister\mum. I hope others mod this and extend the interest possibilities. Infinitely expandable.

Bleach. Kids swim in Chlorine all the time, and that's what most bleaches are. Water purification tablets, perhaps?

Electricity. RCD obviously.

Make_This10 months ago
What a neat idea. I need to find someone w a toddler ...thanks for the spark
theerikjohnson (author) 10 months ago

Thank you all for your comments and interest.

hammer987610 months ago

This looks like great, wet fun! Just for another idea, I saw a water feature in a museum where you could divert water flowing slightly downhill. I could dam it all up, make it go fast down a sluice, or make it go snaking down the table. All this with little removable walls and stationary pegs. I had to fight the children off to play with it. (Actually, it was a slow day and I shared it with only one child. Good fun.

theerikjohnson (author)  hammer987610 months ago

yes, I saw something similar using Legos. it was great fun for all ages. Thanks for the comment.

shortw10 months ago

Nice idea and set-up.

spark master10 months ago

Take it from someone who has sat in enough doctors offices enough times, add the appropriate amount of bleach to the water AND change the water Every Time the kids use it. (mty after each use)

I raised 2 kids and the nasties from playing in/with water can be serious. Allowing it to sundry on all sides is also helpful.

That said, this is awesome for kids. Make huge one put over your pool and just use the chlorinated pool water.

great project

Just use new water every time you use the table, and make sure to dry it out really well. Don't add bleach to the water the kids are playing with, that will most certainly get into their eyes at some point. Good lord, the nannies on this website just make me never want to look at the comments ever again.

Actually no to the granny crap, use bleach. If it is enough to burn the eyes it is way too much.

My kids and a bunch of other all got the gift of Coxsackie Virus more then once. All from pool water in water that was changed daily, (after each use and then rinsed).

The Doctor told us to put a drop or so (maybe a teaspoon maybe half teaspoon, can't remember), in the water. After we dropped in some bleach, no worries.

Obviously do what you feel you need to do, or do not do what you feel you need to do. Be part of the Great Darwinian game of life.

I do agree there are many silly legalese warnings, but this is not one of them. Great project though. Trust me, I have plenty of big painfully earned scars, so I can understand your point.
csokl10 months ago

Sweet, great ideas, thx

bradherman10 months ago
If you use a package of straws glued together inside one of the spouts you can make the water come out looking like a glass tube. Like the fountains at Disneyland.
mailmam7110 months ago

For those of you who are worried, get a solar pump, problem solved!

Exocetid10 months ago

This is a super-clever idea! Quite customizable and expandable as your son gets older.

• legs next year when he gets taller.

• a hose and a variety of cups, possibly a water wheel from an aquarium.

• toy boats and a tray.

--the possibilities are endless!

KevinOKane1 year ago
I still had trouble getting the inserts through the black pipe, even after soaking in water. Either the temperature was too hot (so pipe didn’t shrink back to original size) or not hot enough. I just couldn’t get the balance right. I’m wondering if it would be ok to hammer the pieces together (using a rubber mallet of course)?
theerikjohnson (author)  KevinOKane1 year ago
try it. a rubber mallet and a semi-soft surface might be just what you need. Maybe check the inner rim of the pipe sections for big burs and file or carve them off. Good luck.
what you talkin bout im maing one for meh
Broom2 years ago
Needs a video!
theerikjohnson (author) 3 years ago
Thank you all for your kind words. Stand by for Water Table 2.0.
It's getting warm out again.. before I go and attempt version 1.0, what's in store for version 2.0? Worth waiting, or just make both!?
oworks3 years ago
I made it for my 1 year old son. He loves it. Thanks for the instructable.
I use bath water pump (KP-103) in japan.
canida3 years ago
This is awesome!
Very COOL! Me-ma will be the greatest grandma ever when I get this made for my crumbsnatchers! Along with a water balloon fight what could be more fun! Another simple water toy we enjoy in the backyard is dishsoap bottles...even the littlest ones can squeeze softer bottles and soak Me-ma and sibs!
jameskoontz3 years ago
Made it and love it. No extension cords in use, and bought a portable gfci outlet adapter for extra safety.
Excellent idea, and good work winning the contest!
bajablue3 years ago
BIG CONGRATS on a fantastic winning project!!!
ehudwill3 years ago
My youngest daughter would love this. I had an idea to make something like this but I never conceived of it in a bin. Great job.
bonnie133 years ago
theerikjohnson (author)  bonnie133 years ago
My son has not been harmed using this toy. It probably has something to do with the fact that I supervise him while he is using this.

This toy is dangerous if you expect it to babysit while you watch TV. But if you will be diligent in your supervision and use common sense, then it's perfectly safe.

Neuronscream makes some great suggestions if you're nervous about this.
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